What does Physiotherapy involve?

There are several forms of treatment that come under the umbrella term of physiotherapy; these principally include massage therapy, hydrotherapy, electrotherapy and exercises and movements.

Massage: massage is generally suitable for all patients and the form and firmness of the massage will be tailored to the particular case. Massage involves patterns and sequences of hand movements, which ease tension in the muscles and joints and improve blood flow; massage therapy can also increase mobility and flexibility which improves the range of movement in the joints.

Hydrotherapy: hydrotherapy commonly takes place in a specialised pool but can be carried out in a normal swimming pool as long as it is shallow and reasonably warm. During a hydrotherapy session a physiotherapist will encourage the patient to do exercises which, coupled with the pressure of the water, will improve circulation and allow the muscles and joints to move more freely. Other techniques such as water jets and massage may also be used to stimulate nerve activity.

Electrotherapy: electrotherapy involves the use of controlled electric shocks in order to increase nerve activity; the dosage is very low and this procedure is not painful. Electrotherapy is used to decrease muscle pain and aid muscle repair and regeneration. There are two main types of electrotherapy; these are known as transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation and neuromuscular electrical stimulation. Physiotherapists may also use technology such as lasers and ultrasound to facilitate the healing process.

Exercise and Movement: one of the fundamental concepts of physiotherapy is to improve the range of movement of joints and muscles. Physiotherapists often use a variety of exercises and stretches to improve flexibility and reduce stiffness; some of these exercises may also be done at home. The range of stretches will be tailored to suit the individual and will usually require a gradual build-up of exercise; commonly patients start with gentle activities such as walking and swimming before moving on to more physically challenging exercise. The stretches will usually be carried out at least once daily for a period of weeks or months.

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